A School for the 5th Ward Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” As a community, we are presented with an opportunity, right now, to build a school for the children of the 5th Ward. The 5th Ward has not had a neighborhood school school since 1967. But we need help. We need leaders to emerge.
We need the physical presence of concerned citizens at school board and committee meetings to show District 65 leadership that the larger Evanston community is committed to the ideals of equal educational opportunity for all. The 5th Ward is home to the City of Evanston’s largest African-American population. The 5th Ward is also the only community in the City of Evanston that does not have its own elementary school. Every other child in every other community in the City of Evanston can attend a neighborhood school of their choice. But not the children of the 5th Ward.
We need people who will distribute information on why we need a 5th Ward school. Each year, between 400 and 600 children are bused out of the 5th Ward in order to attend elementary school. No other community in the City of Evanston separates every single one of its youngest children, not only from their neighborhood but also from each other, and calls this progress. Research studies consistently show that neighborhood schools reduce the achievement gap, produce improved student outcomes and bridge socioeconomic differences. Neighborhood schools also provide a key focal point for a community and serve as an anchor for a neighborhood.
We need the moral authority of the most stable institution in our community, the church. The clergy here in the City of Evanston are committed, compassionate and socially active. We need your engagement, your prayers and your voices of support. Because these are your children as well. They sit in your pews, they attend your Sunday schools, they look to you for guidance and direction. We do as well.
Here are some additional steps you can take: Sign our petition. (We are circulating two petitions; a hard copy and an online version). Visit www.5thwardschool.com for updates, breaking news, important events, resources, and volunteer opportunities. Call or email each member of the District 65 School Board and the New School Referendum Committee voicing your support for a school in the 5th Ward. (Email addresses for each school board and committee member are provided in our website). Leave a single voice mail message for all board members voicing your support for a school in the 5th Ward. To do this, call (847) 859-8745 and follow the prompts. Alternatively, send an email to the entire school board at firstname.lastname@example.org. Attend the next New School Referendum Committee meeting. The New School Referendum Committee is charged with determining the feasibility of a new 5th Ward school. Write a letter of support to The Evanston Review, The Evanston Roundtable and/or The Evanston Now. (A direct link to each newspaper is provided in our website).